Brendan King's two goals with the outcome on the line -- with 3.8 seconds remaining in regulation, then in overtime -- lifted Warde to a landmark victory in boys lacrosse Friday night that also sent Wilton to a place it has never been before.
King's fourth and fifth goals of the game erased a one-goal deficit to the defending CIAC Class M state champions and gave the Mustangs a 9-8 overtime victory over the Warriors in a pivotal FCIAC game at Tom Fujitani Field in Wilton. Warde's first all-time victory over Wilton eliminated the Warriors from the FCIAC tournament and left Wilton, whose overall record fell to 6-10, out of the state tournament for the first time since 1974.
The Mustangs continued their season of first-time accomplishments. On April 29, Warde (8-5) defeated cross-town rival Ludlowe for the first time in the history of their series. Warde coach Tom Cunningham noted Friday's result represented the initial Mustangs' win over any of the three elite teams that have dominated the FCIAC for the past three decades -- Wilton, New Canaan or Darien.
If Warde, which improved to 5-5 in the conference, beats McMahon (10-3) in Norwalk on Wednesday, it will qualify for the FCIAC tournament for the first time as well. A victory over the Mustangs on Friday would have left Wilton with a conference mark of 6-5 and in the FCIAC tourney field.
"We've shown a tendency not to put it away when we've had a chance to," said Wilton coach John Wiseman.
Many of the Warriors had collapsed to the turf from the burden of the historic failures after King had conveted a pass from Kyle Scheetz to touch off a mass celebration on the field by Warde.
Cunningham refused to call the sudden-death victory the signature win in team history. But he acknowledged it is on the tiniest of lists for most signifcant in 10 years of Mustangs' lacrosse. He told the team at halftime, when it trailed 4-2, that the Mustangs would have to play the perfect half. He also told them they were capable of it. They nearly did reach that standard but all in the final 12 minutes.
Wilton's lead grew to 6-3 entering the fourth quarter. Then Warde solved Wilton's defense and Warriors goaltender Jameson Hill, who finished with 15 saves.
"(Senior defender) Brian Kerrigan got us pumped up and then we went on a roll," King said of Warde's vocal captain. Fourth-quarter goals were scored by King, Austin Armas, Kevin Robinson and Scheetz before King's equalizer.
"It was a gutsy win for us.We were down at times but never gave up," said Cunningham, who praised the season-long work of the defenders -- from the defensemen to the long-stick middies to the defensive midfielders, all backed by goalie Jason Nerreau, who made 11 saves.
"We battled back. We talked about what we wanted to accomplish and we executed it," Cunningham said of the timeout taken with 9.8 seconds left, Wilton leading 8-7 and Warde with a two-player extra-man opportunity that King converted.
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Warde 9, Wilton 8 (OT)
WARDE 0 2 1 5 1--9
WILTON 1 3 2 2 0--8
Records: Fairfield Warde 8-5, 5-5 FCIAC; Wilton 6-10, 5-6 FCIAC. Scoring: FW--Brendan King 5 goals, Kyle Scheetz (1g, 2a), Austin Armas (2g), Mike Adams (2a), Kevin Robinson (1g); W--Michael Lynch (2g), Danny Baird (1g, 1a), Brendan Devane (1g, 1a), Will Garbus (1g, 1a), Christian Hansson (1g), Harrison Bardwell (1g), Reid Melillo (1g). Goalies: FW--Jason Nerreau (11 saves); W--Jameson Hill (15). Shots: FW--42; W--30.